While the world moves forward there are several musicians who choose to keep their sound embedded in the analogue riddled past, and anyone who knows what's what in the industrial scene understands Michael Arthur Holloway AKA Dead When I Found Her is one such prodigy who pulls heavily from electro-industrial from the 80s and early 90s. His music has been critically acclaimed by fans and critics alike in the scene. This will no doubt remain the same as DWIFH's next album Eyes On Backwards edges towards release. It is also my pleasure to bring you this interview with Holloway from DWIFH. Below is the track 'Tantrum' which serves as a little teaser for the rest of the album, so be sure to check that out while your read all about Eyes On Backwards.
Hello Michael and welcome to Brutal Resonance! It's getting busy for you as the time for you to release your next album Eyes On Backwards draws near. How are you feeling? Excited? Nervous? A little bit of both?
Holloway: Album releases are always an exciting time, and in fact for me it’s very easy – all my hard work has already been done, so around the time of the release the guys at the label are working a lot harder than I am. Usually the albums have been done for three to six (sometimes nine!) months before their release, which means that by the time the album is in the audience’s hands, I’ve already moved on. In fact usually I’m well into production of the next release when the last one comes out.
Each of your previous albums have maintained a strict focus on late 80s and early 90s industrial and electro-industrial. With Eyes On Backwards I am – as well as I'm sure many others will – are drawing comparisons to the legendary Skinny Puppy. Did you look to Skinny Puppy as a major influence for this album? Or did it kind of just fall into place like that?
Holloway: Skinny Puppy has been a major influence on all of my work, and I think every album I’ve released so far shows that mark. Puppy is my all time favorite band, and the band that inspired me to want to make music of my own. Eyes On Backwards is a bit more aggressive than previous releases, with a more distorted approach to the vocals, so perhaps that makes it feel even more ‘puppy-like’ than usual. Regardless, I have no shame in the revealing the influence: the entire purpose of DWIFH from day one was to bring back a style of music that I felt had disappeared – the dark, horror-themed industrial music of the mid to late 80’s and early 90’s. That goal has never really changed, though with each album I try to explore different sides and voices of that genre.
It's hard to actually pin-point my favorite part on the album thus far as it's absolutely excellent. I notice a bit of adrenaline building up every time I listen to the first two tracks 'Tantrum' and 'The Big Reverse'. Do you find it important to pull in the audience within the first couple of songs or do you think it's the whole package that counts?
Holloway: Yes, the intent was absolutely to start the album off with full-throttle intensity. Things quiet down later on, but the originally my plan was to only write short, aggressive, loud songs for this album. But my melodic instincts eventually got the best of me and after three or four very heavy songs, I started writing slower, more atmospheric pieces again. So the album feels like a mix of both, overall.
From your beginnings with Harm's Way in 2010 to 2012's Rag Doll Blues and last year's All The Way Down, how has your sound changed or matured with Eyes On Backwards?
Holloway: Each album has a different focus, so I’m not sure how to assess maturation, that might be more for the audience to decide. What’s important to me, as an artist, is to follow the energy of my inspiration wherever it takes me; for All The Way Down, it led me to a very dark, very specific place, with a focus on slower, longer pieces. For Eyes on Backwards, I wanted to speed things up and make things more immediate and aggressive. I’m sure for the next release, it will be another angle on industrial, we’ll see. What’s important to me is that I’m always working from a place of very visceral excitement about the music, that I’m feeling inexorably driven to write more and more—meaning that if it ever felt like I was just painting by numbers and doing things just to have them done, I would stop and find something else to do. Fortunately, industrial music has proven so far to be a life-long love for me.
Do you feel as if Eyes On Backwards is your best work to date? Or do you feel as if each album you've created has its own time and place to stand on its own with strength?
Holloway: Well, a bit like with the last question, I don’t really try to rank my work in any way. On a technical level, like most electronic musicians I’m always trying to learn new production techniques, employ crazy new effects chains, learn new (musical) modes to play with, and so on: there needs to always be something fresh and new in the work. I always want to feel like I’m learning something new when I approach a new project, so usually that’s going to be something very technical, or music theory related. That doesn’t mean newer records will be better, per se, but just coming from new and different places, different motivations.
I think Harm’s Way, from a production standpoint, isn’t as strong as the other albums, but that’s understandable to me – I was learning what I was doing while I made that album, after a long time away from music mixing and recording. Each song was a step in teaching myself how to write and record music with my new set of tools—Ableton Live, for example, was brand new to me when I started writing Harm’s Way.
Out of the nine tracks on Eyes On Backwards, which one is your favorite and why?
Holloway: Tough question! Ironically, 'High Anxiety' is probably my favorite—I say ironically, because the original intent of the album was to be brutal and abrasive, and 'High Anxiety' is by far the least aggro-style song on the whole album. But musically and rhythmically, it just clicked into all the right places for me, and I’m very proud of it.
Are you going to be supporting this album on tour or anything of the such? Do you have a release party or any gigs going on?
Holloway: As a live act, DWIFH isn’t really a standard touring band—we’ve never been on tour, and I’m not sure it will ever happen quite that way. We like to play locally and to do one-off festival shows—festivals are always a blast to play, and don’t have all the baggage of a full tour on the road. Currently, however, there are no gigs planned. We had a busy year already playing Terminus, Infest and Cold Waves throughout the summer.
And what else lies in store for the future of Dead When I Found Her? Any remixes, additional songs, or EPs in the work? Anything you can tell us about?
Holloway: I’ve actually sworn off remixes, for good. There just isn’t enough time for them! If I was doing DWIFH full-time, I’m sure I could do tons of great remixes and covers. But as someone who works a full-time job, I need my music time to be fully focused on original content. I will do some more cover songs, but remixes are out unless someone presents an offer I can’t refuse.
I never stop working on new material, though. I’ve also just launched a personal website as new business venture – www.darkestcorner.net – wherein I provide musical scores to video games and other media with a specifically ‘dark’ theme. But I still find time to work on new DWIFH material as well; my industrial energies are currently as alive as ever. Sometimes I think I’m feeling burnt-out on the music, but it never lasts more than a few days and then I’m back at it.
This is a question of curiosity, but I've always enjoyed knowing what other musicians are currently listening to. So, what bands have you been completely addicted to lately?
Holloway: Lately I’ve been revisiting all my old Project Pitchfork records. They are one of my all time favorite industrial bands, and I think their (very profound for the genre) melodic sensibility has influenced my approach to songwriting greatly. So stuff like 'IO' and 'Daimonion' and 'Eon:Eon' have been getting a lot of play lately, I love everything from that era of the band. As far as newer stuff, I really love the SOLVE album by Brant from ∆AIMON, it’s a great record with some brilliant percussive work and a crazy level of intensity going on.
And that's all for now. I thank you for your time and wish you the best of luck with the new album and I also look forward to reviewing it. Cheers! The space below is yours to say what you wish!
Holloway: Thanks for the support!
Nov 02 2016
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.
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